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‘Insecure’ Author Grace Edwards On The Worth Of Advanced Tales About Black Girls


Grace Nkenge Edwards started her profession in leisure as an actor, starring as Monique within the 2007 brief movie “Pangs.” 4 years and a number of other manufacturing and author’s assistant jobs later, “Awkward Black Girl” grew to become a web-based phenomenon.

The Michigan native distinctly remembers sitting at her desktop laptop, ready for episodes of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” to drop on Fb. Issa Rae was a supply of inspiration and motivation for her.

“I had people in college telling me, ‘Oh, you’re too dark to really make a run at being an actor.’ So it was cathartic and beautiful to watch this gorgeous dark-skinned woman, who not only was starring in this, who was a romantic lead, but who was also the creator of it,” Edwards mentioned. “I always say that both her and Tina Fey were sort of the blueprint for me in wanting to be both a performer and writer.”

From cameos on “Inside Amy Schumer” to voicing Michelle Obama on “Our Cartoon President” and producing “Insecure,” Edwards is a triple-threat as actor, producer and author. On “Insecure,” she is without doubt one of the primary architects behind the excavation of friendships, highlighting Issa and Molly’s ups, downs and codependency in instances of misery. After becoming a member of the sequence in its fourth season, the Guyanese American author is charting her personal legacy. Quickly audiences will get to see her work because the mastermind behind the forthcoming animated sequence “Jodie,” a follow-up to the ’90s sequence “Daria.” Engaged on “Insecure” has opened doorways for her to proceed to make advanced tales about Black ladies and rewrite the narratives, from Issa Dee and Molly Carter to Jodie Landon.

Although she knew Amy Aniobi and Yvonne Orji, Edwards discovered of the chance to affix the “Insecure” writers room from her agent. Her instant response was, “Yes, of course I’m interested,” however she knew that in becoming a member of the sequence in its fourth season, she needed to convey it.

Issa Rae and Richard Nevels in Season 5, Episode 6, "Tired, Okay?" which Grace Edwards co-wrote. In the episode, Issa comes to help Molly following her mother's sudden stroke.
Issa Rae and Richard Nevels in Season 5, Episode 6, “Tired, Okay?” which Grace Edwards co-wrote. Within the episode, Issa comes to assist Molly following her mom’s sudden stroke.

She was nervous in the course of the interview course of as a result of “Insecure” had “already been a bona fide hit,” however what she discovered was a heat, loving surroundings that Issa Rae and showrunner Prentice Penny had created.

“I had never worked before on a show that was this Black. My first show that I worked on was ‘Loosely Exactly Nicole,’ starring Nicole Byer, but she was the only Black character on there,” Edwards mentioned. “As I was pitching [on ‘Insecure’], things can just come out of my mouth the way they would, whereas a lot of times when I was working for other shows, there’s almost like a translation that has to go on.”

Edwards mentioned she has develop into a greater author general by working with Rae and Penny. A departure from the punchline-driven comedy that sketch initiatives desired, Edwards now seeks to seek out comedy in relatability.

With “Insecure,” she discovered that the characters resonated together with her, whether or not they’re younger and broke attempting to outlive in a giant metropolis or an all-too-familiar depiction of the ladies in her personal life. The fullness of those Black characters was one thing she had by no means seen earlier than.

“How rare and beautiful it was to see us on screen depicted so realistically and allowing these characters to be messy,” Edwards mentioned. “I was a fan of ‘A Different World,’ ‘Girlfriends,’ and all those Black sitcoms from the ’90s, but this was different in the sense that it was getting deeper into these characters and allowing them to be messy and make mistakes. It meant a lot to me to know that it was possible, that’s the type of television that I wanted to see out there.”

Edwards mentioned, “It’s OK to sometimes let your characters make unpopular choices, because that’s real." In Season 4, Edwards wrote scenes in which Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) navigate a splintered relationship.
Edwards said, “It’s OK to sometimes let your characters make unpopular choices, because that’s real.” In Season 4, Edwards wrote scenes in which Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) navigate a splintered relationship.

Merie Weismiller Wallace/HBO

Edwards is the writer behind Season 4, Episode 9, “Lowkey Trying.” In that episode, Molly, Issa and Nathan are at Andrew’s house enjoying a consuming recreation. After a season marred by their frayed relationship, Molly makes an attempt to increase a perfunctory olive department to Issa, due to persuasion from Andrew. She texts, “See, I’m trying,” however as a substitute of sending it to Andrew, Issa receives it — and storms out.

“Sometimes you do sort of get back together with a friend momentarily — not really having addressed the things — so you hope that you can sweep that under the rug. That sort of fateful text was showing that Molly really hadn’t gotten over it,” Edwards said. “Even at the beginning of this season, it’s still tenuous. When there has been that level of hurt, it does take a minute, and it does take honesty and transparency to actually get through to the other side.”

“It’s OK to sometimes let your characters make unpopular choices,” she added, “because that’s real. That’s reality and that’s life. That’s what makes something more compelling in a way because you can see yourself in the mistakes that you’ve made in them. Sometimes when you’re getting mad at a character, you’re getting mad because you’ve done that yourself.”

Edwards said that she has learned so much from writing such raw scenes about the deep exploration of characters. Her next task will be exploring an older Jodie Landon in a modern spinoff of the series “Daria.” “The perfect African American teen,” who was once relegated to the background as a Black supporting character, is now getting her long overdue time to shine.

“It was a joy because I grew up with Daria. I remember watching it on MTV and feeling very seen by it. I was a nerdy girl,” said Edwards. “And I really felt like Daria and Jane were representative of those of us who felt unseen. Like Jodie, I went to primarily white schools growing up, so I related so much to having to feel like you really can’t fully be yourself. Every time I would see Jodie, I would sit up straighter and I’d always want more. I felt like there wasn’t enough of her.”

“How rare and beautiful it was to see us on screen depicted so realistically and allowing these characters to be messy. … It meant a lot to me to know that it was possible. That’s the type of television that I wanted to see out there.”

– Grace Edwards on how ‘Insecure’ has affected her as a writer

“Jodie,” written by Edwards, is coming to Comedy Central in 2022. The animated coming-of-age series will follow an early-20s Landon navigating life after college and the challenges of the workplace, dating and more. While Jessica Cydnee Jackson voiced her in the late-1990s sitcom, Tracee Ellis Ross will be taking up the revisited role.

Edwards said that in the reboot, viewers see the world wholly from Landon’s perspective rather than from her being a secondary character on someone else’s show.

“We’re gonna see Jodie Landon, who used to be the perfect Black teen, come to a whole other environment and realize that she was the big fish in the small pond. And now she’s a small fish in the ocean. It’s about her just growing into being an adult in a different environment than Lawndale where we get to see the 360 degree, full, three-dimensional character.”

Despite the naysayers, Edwards never thought following her Hollywood dreams was impossible. And “Insecure” has proved her right.

“What people were saying for a long time ― ‘Oh, the reason why we don’t have a lot more diverse things is because people won’t watch and it doesn’t sell overseas.’ Well, I think that ‘Insecure’ has proved that is not the case. We have something now to point to, like, ‘Look, this is something that happened and it was successful.’ I’m just excited that we have this beautiful piece of work, which will last forever and I think will go down in television history as one of the most significant comedy shows that has ever been created.”

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